I was beside myself with questions the day after the by-election held in the Kumawu Constituency – Are the electorates in Kumawu resident in Ghana? Are they aware of the economic hardship we complain of in this country? Are they aware that the NPP government has acknowledged that we are in crisis, such that without the IMF’s bailout, we are doomed? Ei!, So, NPP can break the 8?
It is not like I was not foretold about the outcome- That it will be a walk in the park for the NPP candidate. But I could not bring myself to believe that anybody resident in Ghana today, will walk to a polling station, receive ballot paper, enter a booth and thumbprint for an NPP candidate amid these difficult times.
Not with what seemed to me prior, as a unanimous perception of, “Akufo-Addo has disappointed us” among the populace. Not to the extent of close to 80% of those who turned out to vote, doing so for the NPP candidate – Ernest Yaw Anim. Alas, I now have eggs on my face.
But is this a dress rehearsal for election 2024? Assuredly, Not! That is what I have heard from some election analysts and pollster Ben Ephson. For instance, Professor Musah Danquah of Info Analytics says 57% of respondents of a survey his outfit conducted recently say NPP can’t ‘break the 8’.
That notwithstanding, my gut feeling is that if the outcome of the Kumawu by-election is possible, then there is a cause for concern. And I tend to trust my gut feeling because more often than not, it gets confirmed. In 2008, I remember engaging in a debate with my mates at GIMPA over which presidential candidate could win the election. Everyone said it was a done deal for the NPP’s Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (NADAA). They stopped short of telling me that I was nuts for thinking otherwise.
One of them asked, “which Ghanaian in his right senses, would vote for NDC to return to power?” They contended that given the kind of social intervention policies the then President Kufuor administration had put in place as well as the rapturous jubilation that characterized the removal from office of the Rawlings-led NDC administration in which the late Prof John Evans Atta Mills was Vice President, 8 years earlier, it was impossible. Indeed, their views were supported by renowned election analysts and pollsters at the time.
As a lone voice, I posited that given the harsh economic situation engendered by the Kufuor administration, coupled with the arrogant posturing of government officials at the time, it was possible for the NDC led by Prof. Mills to win the election. They poopooed my position and left me crest fallen. However, the final outcome of election 2008, proved my gut feeling right and raised my spirits very high- Vindicated!!! I remember telling the one who asked me the question alluded to above.
It is for this reason that when the Member of Parliament elect for the Kumawu Constituency, Ernest Yaw Anim said as part of his victory speech that, “this is a demonstration that, if we say we will break the 8, it will happen,” I did not consider it wishful thinking. Especially so, when I watched and heard the kinds of things the NPP did in the constituency in order to secure that landslide in the election. And my gut feeling is that if a stop is not put to such incumbency trickery, the NPP can ‘break the 8.’
For the uninitiated, ‘Break the 8’ is a catchphrase being used by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to indicate their quest to retain power through the 2024 elections. If that happens, they would have broken the prevailing 8-year cycle of NDC-NPP rule.
Why it may be possible
There is no gainsaying the fact that vote-buying, rehabilitation of bad roads, invasion of Kumawu by government officials led by NADAA, Vice President Bawumia’s reference to challenges posed by ‘dumsor’ and the presence of the NPP’s flagbearer aspirants, all contributed to making the residents forget their woes, momentarily.
It is a fact that in spite of the devalued nature of the Cedi, for a rural-resident Ghanaian, GH¢40.00 or GH¢50.00 is a lot of money. Actually, it is an amount that can be lived on for a week by any Ghanaian village dweller, especially if you add a few margarine tins of imported rice as was the case in Kumawu. Hence, it is understandable for anybody who receives this quantum of money in Kumawu to feel indebted to the benefactor and proceed to vote accordingly.
Also, it is public knowledge that ex-president John Mahama (JM) paid GH¢40.00 to each of the over 300,000 delegates as T&T, which undoubtedly influenced the 98.9% votes he garnered to become the flagbearer of the NDC. That is because this amount, even for the average urban dwelling delegate is at least, a two-day stipend, thus appreciable. For those who may say that JM would have won anyway, I admit. My point is that the T&T obligated the delegates to vote for him, massively.
Based on historic trends, it is a given that no avid supporter of the two parties aforementioned, will switch their votes for either party- no way. It is therefore the floating voters, also known as kingmakers or destiny deciders, who are likely to be the focus of the vote-buyers.
Granted that at the national level, it is practically impossible to dish out money to every one of the over 17 million registered voters who will be required to exercise their franchise on December 7, 2024. Nonetheless, if the outcomes of the Kumawu by-election and JM’s victory in the NDC’s presidential primaries are anything to go by, my fear is that the about 2 million or so floating voters could be targeted and influenced accordingly by the NPP with all the money bestowed upon it by incumbency.
• None is righteous
I was told and now I believe same to be true, that in this life, none is righteous and none is incorruptible. It is the weight of the bait that determines whether or not a particular individual may fall. The certainty of no one being righteous and the reality and effectiveness of vote-buying are what make me believe that somehow, the NPP can ‘break the 8’.
In the 2020 election, the parliamentary seat for the Assin North Constituency was won by the NDC’s candidate, Gyakye Quayson. We all know that this win has been declared null and void by the Supreme Court, a development that has necessitated a by-election which will be held on June 27, 2023.
One would have thought that it would be a done deal for the umbrella party. However, the elephant party has risen to the task. Bulldozers, excavators and trucks can be seen in the constituency resurfacing bad roads and building drains. And that is a tip of the iceberg as far as the vote-buying strategy is concerned. The money and rice sharing tactics are yet to be rolled out.
• Ghanaians have short memory
Much as I disagree with this assertion made by JM few years ago, the fact that the residents of Kumawu could be swayed by the sudden provision of asphaltic roads and the overnight availability of potable water from the quickly bored boreholes, attests to the veracity of this statement.
As such, if whatever measures the government claims to be putting in place to turn the economy around yield positive outcomes next year, one may not be able to begrudge Ghanaians if they turn out in their numbers to vote for the NPP on December 7, 2024. Any such outcome, in addition to a grand vote-buying scheme could sway the pendulum of voting in the NPP’s favour.
• JM’s candidature
It is a case of crying over spilt milk. But as I pointed out in my previous article titled, ‘Why John Mahama should have tarried a while’, the NDC should have heeded to the advice contained in the report by the credible Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU), that a different candidate, instead of JM, should be made to contest the 2024 election in order to guarantee a win.
With JM as the NDC’s candidate, imagine if the NPP delegates elect Mr. Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen as the flagbearer. I know about the argument that Alan cannot extricate himself from the perceived rot caused by the current NPP government. But if one does a ‘tale of the tape’ between Alan and JM, with regard to damage to reputation, thus appeal to floating voters, I shudder to imagine the outcome.
Why it may not be possible
• JM’s good showing in 2020 election
For the first time since I resumed writing this column in 2021, two friends of mine who enjoy reading the articles- Morton and Adade disagreed with all the points I raised in the article titled, “Why John Mahama should have tarried a while.”
Others also pointed out to me that under the current circumstances, JM is the only presidential material that can unseat the NPP administration come December 7, 2024. They pointed to JM’s good showing against NADAA in the 2020 election- he managed to regain over 500,000 out of the 1 million vote margin by which he lost the 2016 election to NADAA.
As someone who does not take entrenched positions during a debate, I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. If they are proved right, then the quest by the NPP to ‘break the 8’ will be a mirage.
• NADAA has made JM look like an angel
In addition, critics of the aforementioned article pointed to the poor handling of the economy by NADAA and his excellent ministers, compared with JM’s previous tenure and said that the latter is 100% better than the former.
Since then, I have come across others who have also espoused similar views. Because I agree that NADAA has performed abysmally, I am willing to go along with their belief with the hope that it materializes. If that happens, then there shall be no breaking of the 8.
• Economic situation may get worse
There are those who posit that the difficulties we are experiencing as a country may get worse in the coming months and most likely take a nose dive next year.
They contend that NADAA has checked out of being president. His preoccupation now is how to ensure that he retires comfortably. Ken Ofori-Atta too. Worse still, the head of the Economic Management Team (EMT), Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has picked a form to contest the flagbearer race of NPP in order to take over from his boss. His focus from now to November, 2023 will be how to win the race, not how to better your living conditions. If he is elected as the presidential candidate, then his job as Vice President and head of the EMT has ended- Campaign mode will be activated. If the economy gets worse…
• Change for the sake of it
During the run-off that occurred in the 2000 presidential election, the late Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, a renowned advertising mogul, crafted a key message for then candidate Kufuor’s campaign- “Mɔko aya ni mɔko aba, that’s all”, to wit, let’s change the government for the sake of it.
Twenty-three years on, Some Ghanaians I have interacted with believe that we seem to have come to that point again, where change for the sake of it is what must happen. Hence, breaking the 8 is a no no.
It’s time to go
Personally, I hold the view that considering the fact that the NDC and NPP have had two tenures of eight years each; 1992-2000-NDC, 2001-2008- NPP, 2009- 2016- NDC and 2017- 2024- NPP, with not much to show in terms of our fortunes as a country, it is time we the electorates consciously give them four years term each going forward.
And since the NDC has elected JM as flagbearer, regardless of all his shortcomings, we may as well in the spirit of “Mɔko aya ni mɔko aba, that’s all” let him have his four remaining years as president and bring back the NPP after that.
I concede that it is not a perfect solution. But we cannot continue doing the same thing and expect different results. Hopefully, that will serve to put our politicians on their toes to take us away from the demeaning woes of a third world country to where Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and our forebears envisioned this country to be, in the shortest possible time.
While we are at it, we should also amend that constitutional provision that affords each president two four-year terms. Clearly, it has done us more harm than good. When we do that, there will never ever be any 8 to break.
Güle güle – That’s goodbye in Turkish.
Let God Lead! Follow Him directly, not through any human.
The writer is the author of two books whose contents share knowledge on how anyone desirous of writing like him can do so. Eric can be reached via email [email protected].